18 Things You Need To Know Today (April 6)

Photo by WWF

1. Humans are destroying some of the world's most precious places.

A new report by the WWF found that nearly half of the World Heritage sites on earth—those areas listed by the UN as holding "outstanding value to humanity"—are threatened by harmful human activity like mining and illegal logging. (WWF)

2. Twitter is the latest company to improve its parental leave policy.

The social media giant will now offer 20 weeks of paid parental leave for employees. (That includes men, too!) (The Cut)

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3. The White House warns of the effect climate change will have on public health.

The White House report warns that if climate change continues at its current rate, extreme heat could cause 11,000 additional deaths in the summer of 2030 and 27,000 by the summer of 2100. "It's not just about glaciers and polar bears," EPA chief Gina McCarthy said during a briefing. (TIME)

4. Paris is doing gluten-free right.

New gluten-free patisseries are popping up around Paris. Holding themselves to the high pastry standards the French are known for, these bakers are doing it all without the gums, thickeners, and other additives that many packaged gluten-free products rely on. (NY Times)

5. Vegetarian diets are still more beneficial for the environment.

In addition to health benefits, skipping meat more often could have a more positive impact on the environment. A recent study found that producing meat-free protein sources generates approximately 10 times less greenhouse gas emissions than producing comparable beef-based products. (Science Daily)

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6. Most companies are still providing health coverage after the Affordable Care Act.

Although there were fears that employers would stop offering health insurance to employees once the ACA passed, it turns out that most organizations are still committed to providing the benefit. It's likely because companies know that good health coverage helps attract and maintain employees and because they receive a tax break for providing coverage. (NY Times)

7. Treating depression helps lower the risk of heart disease.

Depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, though researchers aren't sure exactly why. Now, a new study of 7,550 people found that effectively treating depression could actually lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure down to the same level as those who have never had depression. (HealthDay)

8. New hair care line Beauty & Pinups has cast Special Olympian Katie Meade as the face of their beauty campaign.

She is reportedly the first woman with Down syndrome to serve as a spokesmodel for a cosmetics brand. (Huff Post)

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9. Playing with your kids can keep them healthy.

A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children spent much more time in active physical play when their moms and dads joined in the activity, compared to those who played on their own. The researchers say that more parental participation could help reduce childhood obesity. (WSJ)

10. California falls just short of its water conservation goal.

In order to combat the statewide drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown encouraged Californians to cut water use by 25 percent between June 2015 and February 2016, compared with 2013 usage. The state ended up coming just shy of this figure, with a 23.9 percent reduction. The government has yet to announce if similar regulations will be put into place moving forward. (The Sacramento Bee)

11. A new eye-tracking test could help diagnose autism earlier.

A study at the University of Vermont found that kids with autism spectrum disorder were more likely to focus on a speaker's mouth during emotional talks rather than their eyes. The researchers hope that using eye-tracking technology through a webcam or software could help spot autism at a younger age. (The Independent)

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12. Babies that are raised in bilingual households have superior mental capabilities.

They are displaying executive functioning as early as 11 months of age, just as babies are producing their first words. In addition, the brains of babies from bilingual families remain more open to learning new language sounds, compared with those from monolingual families. This displays that not only are extremely young children capable of learning multiple languages but that very early childhood is the optimum time for them to begin. (Science Daily)

13. Olympic diver and LGBT activist Greg Louganis is getting his own Wheaties box.

A documentary about the retired athlete inspired a petition to feature him on the famous cereal box after Louganis said that he wasn't asked to appear on Wheaties in the '80s due to homophobia. “Getting it now means people will see me as a whole person—a flawed person who is gay, H.I.V.-positive, with all the other things I’ve been through.” (NYT)

14. We are attracted to people whose emotions we can easily understand.

This may be due in part to matching neural circuitry. Being able to comprehend one another's intentions and emotions is essential for successful social interaction. Whether emotional decoding and attraction can change if people work at it remains unknown. (TIME)

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15. Skin tissue has been grown in Japan that has hair follicles and sweat glands.

They have also implanted the tissue into living mice and found that it actually formed connections with the animals' nerves and muscle fibers. These findings may help researchers create better skin transplants for human patients who have severe burns or skin diseases. (Scientific American)

16. Plastic pollution is ruining our oceans.

Researchers just discovered huge pieces of plastic—everything from a 43-foot shrimp-fishing net to a plastic car engine cover—in the stomachs of four beached whales off the German coast. (Fast CoExist)

17. Glamour included Amy Schumer in their plus-size issue—but she's not plus-size.

Schumer Instagrammed her response: "I think there's nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn't feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool Glamour not glamourous." (The Cut)

18. PayPal has abandoned plans to expand into North Carolina due to the state's anti-gay legislation.

PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman said, "As a company that is committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are, becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable." (Jezebel)

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